Eligible employees can take paid bereavement leave if someone close to them dies, or for a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Bereavement leave gives an employee time to grieve and to take care of matters to do with the bereavement. This can be taken at any time and for any purpose relating to the bereavement. It does not have to be taken straight away or on consecutive days.
Employers often agree to giving employees additional bereavement leave above the minimum entitlement, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a funeral is being held a long distance away.
All employees (permanent, fixed-term, part-time and casual) can use bereavement leave if:
- they have worked for the employer continuously for six months or:
- they have worked for the employer for six months for
o an average of 10 hours per week, and
o at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.
Employees are entitled to bereavement leave every 12 months as long as they meet the above criteria. If they don’t meet the criteria due to changes in work, they are not entitled to bereavement leave. However, the employee may re-qualify when they do meet the six-month requirement.
Employees should tell their employer as soon as possible when they have a bereavement they want to take leave for.
Each employee gets bereavement leave for a minimum of three days per bereavement in the following circumstances:
- The employee’s immediate family member dies (e.g. parent, child, partner or spouse, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, parent-in-law)
- The employee has a miscarriage or stillbirth
- Another person has a miscarriage or stillbirth and the employee:
o is the person’s partner
o is the person’s former partner and would have been a biological parent of a child born as a result of the pregnancy
o had agreed to be the primary carer of a child born as a result of the pregnancy (e.g. through a formal adoption or a whangai arrangement)
o is the partner of a person who had agreed to be the primary carer of a child born as a result of the pregnancy.
Each employee gets bereavement leave for a minimum of one day per bereavement if another person dies and their employer accepts they’ve had a bereavement. This is based on:
- how close they were with the deceased person
- whether they have to take a lot of the responsibility for all or any of the arrangements for the ceremonies relating to the death
- if they have any cultural responsibilities in relation to the death.
If an employee doesn’t qualify for, or wants extra, bereavement leave
If an employee:
- hasn’t met the six month criteria so doesn’t qualify for bereavement leave, or
- wants to take extra bereavement leave (e.g. wants to take 5 days for the death of their grandparent)
- then their employer can agree that the employee can take:
- bereavement leave in advance, or
- the leave as annual holidays. An employer can’t make an employee take bereavement leave as annual leave.
Proof of bereavement
The law is silent about proof of bereavement. This means that requesting proof cannot be a condition for the employee taking bereavement leave.
The employer is not prohibited from requesting proof, either. So the concept of good faith would apply. This requires both the employer and the employee to be responsive and communicate, and not mislead or deceive each other.